Power Ranking the Mets' Principal Owners in Franchise History
The Mets have had five principal ownership groups in franchise history.
From Joan Whitney Payson to Fred Wilpon, the team has gone through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Two World Series titles, four NL championships, several players and such later, the team still grows as the season gets ready to wind down.
But who has been the best owner? The worst? Heck, how do all the owners stand in franchise history?
In my latest History of the Mets slideshow, we rank all five principal ownership groups in team history.
5. Charles S. Payson
Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com
Playoff Berths: 0
Best season: 1976 (86-76, 3rd in the NL East)
Highlights: Tom Seaver's 1975 NL Cy Young
Lowlights: Tom Seaver is traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the "Midnight Massacre," The beginning of the "Dark Days" of the Mets' franchise.
Charles Shipman Payson is probably the least known of the Mets principal owners. And rightfully so. Having inherited the team from his recently deceased wife, Payson wished to have little to do with the team, and instead, ran it through M.Donald Grant and the Payson children.
It was during his tenure that franchise face Tom Seaver left New York, plunging the Mets into the darkest days of franchise history.
Mercifully, Charles' reign ended when he sold the team to the Doubleday Publishing Corporation.
4. Fred Wilpon (Sole Owner)
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Playoff Berths: One (2006)
Best season: 2006 (97-65, 1st in NL East, NLCS)
Highlights: 2006 season, Oversaw construction of Citi Field, Citi Field named host of 2013 All-Star Game.
Lowlights: 2002 and 2003, the Met Sematary era, the Madoff scandal, the 2007 and 2008 collapses, and losing Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins.
Fred Wilpon actually owned the team longer, but I'm putting that in the Nelson Doubleday slide. Let's focus then on the reign of Fred Wilpon as a sole owner.
Fred Wilpon has been one of the more up-and down owners of the team. When he first started out, the Mets fell to the bottom of the league, and wouldn't compete for three years.
Beginning in 2005, the Mets sniffed success, and started playing better, ultimately culminating in a playoff berth in 2006, with a trip to the 2006 NLDS against the Cardinals. After two near-misses, the Mets moved into Citi Field, where they faltered and succumbed to the injury bug and other inconveniences.
If the Wilpons can get out of their financial mess and get the Mets to compete again, there is hope for redemption.
3. Doubleday Publishing Co.
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Playoff Berths: 0
Best season: 1985 (98-64)
Highlights: Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden wins Rookie of the Year, Gooden wins Cy Young, the beginning of the glory years of the franchise (1984-88), the building of the 1986 champions
Lowlights: Continuation of the Dark ages for the Mets, 1981 Strike.
When the Doubleday Publishing Group bought the Mets, the Mets were down in the dumps, suffering from the (mis)management of Charles Payson, otherwise known as the absentee owner.
The damage done to the Mets from the previous owner essentially forced the Mets to stay out of the hunt for three seasons, during which they were repeat inhabitants of the cellar, but fortunately for them, they gained two key cornerstone pieces through the draft. Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden were both drafted in the first round.
In the trade market, the Mets were very successful, netting two more key cogs for their 1986 championship run, in Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter.
What differs the Doubleday ownership group from Nelson and Fred is that the whole publishing company owned the team, this was before Doubleday and Wilpon bought out the company.
2. Joan Whitney Payson
Playoff Berths: 2 (1969 (World Series Champions), 1973 (NL Champions))
Best Season: 1969 (100-62, World Series Champions)
Highlights: The Birth of the Mets, the 1969 and 1973 World Series appearances, Tom Seaver's Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards, Jon Matlack's Rookie of the Year award, The signing of Tom Seaver
Lowlights: The early years of the franchise, the 1972 players' strike, the death of Gil Hodges.
Joan Whitney Payson, a former owner of the New York Giants, became the owner of the New York Mets when the league granted New York a franchise. To summarize her tenure, it was filled with plenty of early disappointment, which is fairly common for an expansion team, and the beginning of success.
What started out as a team that made losing "fun" started to get serious when Tom Seaver, then Gil Hodges and Jerry Koosman were added. As more players were added, the 1969 Miracle Mets took shape and shocked the world when they became the (then) fastest franchise to win a championship.
The 1970's saw a change in the team's fortunes, as they played respectably, but unfortunately could not repeat their magic. After the untimely death of Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra led the team to another berth in the postseason which culminated in a World Series loss to the Oakland Athletics.
Payson died in 1975, leaving the team to her husband, who is considered in this slideshow to be the worst owner in Mets history. Nonetheless, Joan Whitney Payson was the second best owner in franchise history.
1. Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon
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Playoff berths: 4 (1986 WS, 1988, 1999, 2000 WS)
Best season: 1986 (108-54, World Series champions)
Highlights: 1986 World Series, 2000 World Series, Mike Piazza trade, 1988 and 1999 Playoff appearances, 9/21/01
Lowlights: The Worst Teams Money Could Buy (1992,1993), 1994 MLB Strike, Generation K.
Shocking, isn't it? Shocking to find that Fred Wilpon somehow got to the top of the list. Well, here's why.
With the help of Nelson Doubleday, Wilpon was part of the team's glory days, when they were one of the best teams in baseball. The pieces having already been acquired in the draft, trades, and free agency, the Mets went on to win 108 games en route to a dramatic seven game series with Boston.
Two years later, the Mets made it back into the postseason, only to fall to the upstart Dodgers.
The Mets regressed under the Doubleday/Wilpon group in the early 1990's. Back to back disappointing seasons in 1992 and 1993 gave the team the moniker "the Worst Team Money Could Buy."
Fortunately, after a strike shortened 1994 and 1995, and a rebuilding 1996 and 1997, the Mets were back in business, acquiring solid pieces that would contribute to the 1999 and 2000 NL Wild Card teams.
Payson and Doubleday/Wilpon hold the distinction of being the owners of the two World Series champions, as well as their two other NL pennants. Though the Wilpon part (regrettably) lives on, the owners of the team during two successful runs clearly is the best one in team history.